Monday, January 21, 2008

Aren't the right tools wonderful? There are jobs that are very difficult that can become effortless with the right piece of equipment. Ever try to sharpen a pencil without a pencil sharpener or even with a bad one? There are a few pieces of kitchen equipment like this and one is quite surprising - or at least it was to me.

The stick blender

Yes, this is now an essential part of my kitchen arsenal. I know, I know - a stick blender??? What do I use it for??? I can hear your incredulity across the Internet. But the answer is simple, for many things, but most of all for soup. Soup is one of the most satisfying meals available. Soup is easy, flavorful, comes warm or cold, keeps well, freezes well, and tastes good. What a concept! That said, many soups - some of the best soups - just aren't as good if they're not pureed. Anyone who has pureed soup in batches in a blender (making a huge mess and, more likely than not, spraying it out the top of the blender), probably doesn't do it very often. It's a nightmare. The stick blender eliminates the need for this, allowing you to puree to your desired smoothness directly in your cooking pot - even if it's non-stick. The best part about my stick blender (pictured at the link above. Yes, you can get it for cheaper than that.) is that the motor attaches to a little mini-food processor, allowing me to quickly mince garlic, ginger, chilis, and the like when I only need to do a small amount and don't want to dirty our whole Cuisinart. This was especially amazing when I was pureeing all of our food into tiny infant portions for T. What a miracle (Have you ever tried a baby food mill???? Speaking of nightmares!).

I blog about this now, not because of a forthcoming soup recipe, but because of a lovely email from my dad:

"I made my pot roast last night and it was great. However, thanks to you I now realize how much easier this would be with a stick blender. We have an attachment for our hand mixer, but all it really did was stir things up. I had to remove all the vegetables to the food processor and then remix them to make the sauce; dirtying tons of stuff and taking way too much time. This is another thing I never knew I needed :)"

I expect a stick blender will be making its way into my dad's house soon.

He ends with this fabulous other food related thought, with which I heartily agree:

"On another foodie note, I love fresh thyme. Not only does it taste better than dried, but it smells good when you cut it and it looks good when it’s growing. Best of all nothing can kill it! Ours is just peaking out from the snow and it’s as fresh and tasty as it was in high summer."

Even true in Michigan!

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